The Market for Recylables: Prospects and Problems
A modem industrial economy uses large quantities of raw materials, from resources that are consumed in use, such as fossil fuels, to materials that can be recycled a limited number of times, such as paper, to materials that are always available to future uses, such as metals. Any simple extrapolation of materials' use as world GDP rises demonstrates that our use of raw materials is not sustainable (Meadows 1972). The Limits to Growth set off widespread concern about using up the Earth's resources. The Brundtland Commission (World Commission 1987) formulated the issues in terms of "sustainable development" - providing for the needs of today without compromising the ability of people to provide for their needs in the future. This definition is universally applauded because it can satisfy almost all people, from the most concerned environmentalist to the most narrow industrialist.